By Deb Gau
MARSHALL - Recent burglary rates in Marshall haven't been up to the level of a rash of burglaries reported this fall, but Marshall Police say that doesn't mean local residents should stop being vigilant.
The number of reported burglaries "have fallen off dramatically," compared to spikes seen in October and in the spring of 2012, said Marshall Police Chief Rob Yant.
"It's probably due to a number of things," Yant said, ranging from increased public awareness and police patrols to weather conditions.
Marshall Police Sgt. Paula Curry said there have been six burglaries reported in Marshall in the past two months, including two incidents where property was stolen from a detached garage. Curry said incidents where an arrest was made for a roommate or spouse taking property from a residence were not counted in the six burglaries.
There have not yet been any arrests made specifically for this fall's burglaries, Yant said. However, investigations have continued.
"We have a number of suspects (in the burglaries) who were arrested on other charges," Yant said. "And we have been getting back some of the lab results on residents' items," and other evidence submitted to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. Information from the lab results will help in ongoing investigations.
Yant and Curry said there were likely a number of reasons burglary rates have fallen off in the past two months. Police had responded to burglary incidents with increased patrols, which, combined with public awareness probably helped deter thieves.
Curry said a series of public meetings held to talk about crime prevention also helped to get Marshall residents engaged.
Police have been receiving many calls to report suspicious activity, which otherwise might have been reported after the fact, she said. Residents have also responded by watching out for each other, adding security systems and improving outside lighting on their homes.
The arrival of wintry weather may also have acted as a deterrent, Yant said. Cold temperatures are unpleasant, and it's harder for burglars to move unnoticed in the snow.
However, Yant said, "We encourage people to maintain caution." Taking small steps to prevent burglary, like communicating with neighbors, leaving lights on and improving visibility around homes, can make a difference. Following through with those steps is equally important, he said.
The Marshall Police Department will be continuing to work with local residents interested in forming neighborhood watch groups. A meeting for forming watch groups will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the Law Enforcement Center in Marshall. Community members are encouraged to attend to learn how to start and maintain a healthy neighborhood watch program.
The meeting will also include discussion about recent crime issues, and current crime statistics in Marshall.